Fullback Andy Janovich will join the Cleveland Browns
The orange uniform jersey is not bad, but new fullback Andy Janovich will have to find a new uniform number with the Cleveland Browns, as 32 is already taken.
Fullback Andy Janovich is being traded from the Denver Broncos to Cleveland for a 2021 seventh-round draft pick, as reported by Mike Klis of 9News, KUSA in Denver. Janovich is graded by Pro Football Focus as the third-highest fullback in the NFL, ahead of C. J. Ham who played the position in Minnesota where his offensive coordinator was Kevin Stefanski.
Readers of Dawg Pound Daily are no doubt aware that coach Stefanski is a fan of the true fullback, based on his tenure in Minnesota and also makes use of multiple tight end formations. This is not a huge signing, but it is significant because it is a commitment to the running game and to play-action passing, rather than the vertical deep-ball oriented pass offense of coach Freddie Kitchens in 2019.
Janovich was a sixth-round draft pick of the Broncos in 2016 after playing college ball with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He has been a solid performer. However, new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur (yes the same Pat Shurmur who was once the coach of the Browns and then the New York Giants) does not make much use of the fullback in his offense. Hence Janovich was expendable.
Cold weather natural turf football virtually requires a fullback to block for the tailback and also to catch a few balls on screen passes. After all, this is Jim Brown’s team and it just does not feel right to have a football team that does not believe in the fullback.
Janovich wore number 32 in Denver, but that number belongs to Mr. Brown himself, so Janovich needs a new number. He joins a crowded backfield, which paradoxically was only 22nd in the NFL in rush attempts last year. The running game starts with Nick Chubb, who is the best running back we have seen in Cleveland since Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack.
In fact, the numbers have not been seen in Cleveland since the days of Jim Brown. Kareem Hunt is another pro bowl back though his off-the-field misadventures have led to an eight-game suspension, and his future is rather iffy.
Hunt often appeared in the same backfield with Chubb last year. Hunt is one of the new breeds of fullbacks whose job is to pop pass rushers to slow them down or change their path to the quarterback rather than pancake them and stop them dead in their tracks. Hunt was also very effective at catching balls out of the backfield and is still a top 10 runner.
Extra backs Dontrell Hilliard and D’Ernest Johnson were both effective at making catches out of the backfield. On most teams, backs like these two would see extensive use as the change-of-pace back. That makes five backs, so the Browns will be listening to trade offers for any of those five except Chubb.
This off-season, the Browns made an enormous upgrade by signing two offensive stars in offensive tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Austin Hooper. They also signed a veteran backup quarterback in Case Keenum. All of the signs point to a team that runs the ball and makes extensive use of two tight end formations. Nick Chubb and company will be much more dangerous with a true fullback clearing out running lanes.
Is it just me or does suddenly feel like real Cleveland football?